Besides Wiffy Cox, Bobby Cruickshank and Steve Spray, the most angst-inducing name in golf belongs to T.C. Chen, whose initials have stood for Two Chip since a disastrous double-hit triggered Chen's collapse at the 1985 U.S. Open. There may be a whole new generation of T.C.'s at this year's Open, which is being held at Pinehurst's devilishly tricky No. 2 course. With its tightly mowed humps, bumps and hollows surrounding elevated turtleback greens, No. 2 demands more from a golfer's short game than any other course in the world. This week the pros will be as likely to two-chip as to three-putt, and we'll see more than one player watch helplessly as his ball rolls back to him or slips past the pin and disappears over the far edge of the green, gathering speed as it goes.
In a departure from the U.S. Golf Association's tradition of growing ankle-deep rough for the Open, the rough at Pinehurst will be trimmed low enough to allow players to get their approach shots near the greens. The key word is near, since few of those low-backspin knucklers emerging from the rough will stop on No. 2's firm, crowned greens. Result: a big ol' mess of chipping, which is what architect Donald Ross had in mind when he devised and tinkered with his masterpiece from 1901 until his death in '48. "Competitors whose second shots have wandered a bit will be disturbed by these innocent-appearing slopes," said Ross in '36, "and by the shots they will have to invent to recover."
Pinehurst will challenge players' composure as severely as it tests their games. The North Carolina heat might be fierce. All the players' extra work around the greens will make for rounds lasting more than five hours, and nothing raises a pro's ire like playing field hockey with his wedge. This week's edition of the event the USGA calls the Game's Ultimate Test might be the testiest ever.
Such conditions bode ill for the hot-blooded golfer. That means that Tiger Woods, coming off victories in his last two tournaments, will need to call on every Buddhist influence in his heritage to maximize his chances. Cool veterans with short-game genius are more likely to prosper at Pinehurst. In fact, if Masters champion Jos� Mar�a Olaz�bal—the best chipper in today's game—has a good week, he'll leave No. 2 with two legs up on a Grand Slam.
The Vandy Plan
Will academic scandals like the one at Minnesota (SI, June 14) spur reform in college sports? Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany hopes so. This month a 29-member NCAA committee is weighing two measures that Delany recommended for men's Division I basketball—making freshmen ineligible and giving schools with high graduation rates an extra scholarship. "I hope the committee is bold and does what's right for the game," says Delany.
The SEC is backing an idea introduced by Vanderbilt athletic director Todd Turner. Under Turner's plan a university could no longer reassign the scholarships of athletes who permanently lose their academic eligibility. If a basketball player flunked out as a freshman, for instance, his school could not use his scholarship again until after his class graduated. Turner's proposal hasn't gotten much support from other SEC athletic directors, but academics all over the conference support the idea. Last month the SEC presidents endorsed it by a 9-0 vote. Florida and Tennessee didn't show up for the vote; Arkansas abstained.
The Vandy plan is being reviewed by the NCAA's panel on academic eligibility, which may announce its recommendations later this year. "If you value educating student-athletes, you should favor this," says Turner, who developed the idea with Vanderbilt chancellor Joe B. Wyatt. "Presidents, chancellors and faculty will have a hard time arguing against it."
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